So the Red Sox are coming to Camden Yards for another critical three-game series against the Orioles. Normally we'd save that for Boston's final trip to Baltimore in late September, but who knows if this Red Sox team will still be in the playoff hunt by then.
Boston arrives in Baltimore two games under .500 with a 57-59 record. I still think the Red Sox have one strong surge in them, but the later it gets, it becomes more unlikely. They haven't played well all year long.
And once again, the Orioles turn to rookie left hander Wei-Yin Chen in tonight's series opener.
Chen threw one of his best games of the year against the Red Sox in Fenway Park on June 6, allowing one runs on seven hits over seven innings in a 2-1 win over Boston, outpitching Josh Beckett, who he will be pitching against tonight.
He was also the starter in the Orioles' 6-4 win at Fenway on May 4 that put the O's on their way to a three-game sweep of the Red Sox.
Chen is coming off one of his roughest outings of the season, ambushed by the Royals for a season-high seven runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. And he's been dealing with some nagging physical issues in recent weeks including getting hit in the calf by a comebacker as well as a nagging hip flexor.
But Chen, who has become the team's de facto ace with right hander Jason Hammel out, has pitched well in critical situations.
We'll see if he can do that again -- while rebounding from a tough outing -- tonight against the Red Sox.